Growing Old

The common lot.

To grow old is tragic, especially for women. Men feel it, too, there is small doubt. I once spoke on the subject with one of the best-known men of up-to-date journalism, and we exchanged condolences on the passing of youth and the wild freshness of morning. We both agreed that at times we felt as bright and blithe, as merry and as full of fun, as in the days of our fleeting teens, though at times the world weighs heavily, and its burdens are duly felt.

In the eyes of the others.

We had each undergone an experience which, to thousands of others must be a landmark in the years. It was not the first grey hair! That means nothing nowadays. Nor was it a touch of rheumatism. Do not babies of nine or ten experience that cramping ill? No! It was merely seeing ourselves as reflected from the mind of another. My companion had heard himself, in some legal proceedings, in which he had been a witness, described as a middle-aged man. With a shock of surprise he had realised that this really applied to him! To every one of us comes this horrid moment of recognition. Feeling young, and with daily sight of ourselves unrealising the marks that Time indites upon our faces, we go on from year to year with a vague idea that we are always as we were, or nearly so. And then comes the rough quarter of an hour in which enlightenment arrives. It is good and salutary, but very unpleasant!

The inevitable moment.

One of the most beautiful women I know, whose hair is prematurely white, with an exquisitely picturesque effect of snowiness above the pink of soft cheeks, and the youthful light of deep grey eyes, was a little over forty when, talking one day with a comparatively new acquaintance, she was astonished to hear her say, “My husband says you are a dear old lady.” “Old lady!” The husband was, himself, her elder. The remark rankled for a long time, though I tried to convince her that only the most superficial and careless of observers would ever connect the idea of age with her.

Time, the thief.

The reason that women feel growing old so much more than men is that they know very well that they are more or less failures if they are not ornamental. Even the plainest of women can be decorative in her home surroundings so long as she has the bright eyes, fresh cheeks, and the rounded, yet slight contours of youth. But after awhile Time begins “throwing white roses at us” instead of red, and every passing year puts into his laden wallet a little light from the eyes, a little bloom and softness from the cheeks, a little gloss and colour from the hair, a little lightness from the step, a little blitheness from the smile, and bestows upon us, in their stead, a varied assortment of odds and ends, which are, as to value, exactly what we choose to make them. It needs a little moral alchemy to turn them to gold and diamonds, pearls and opals; and, failing this transforming touch, Time’s exchanges seem sorry enough.

Three Ways of Growing Old

The best way.

Growing old in thought.

Regions to be conquered.

There are three ways of growing old. In two of them there lies a possibility of benefiting by the New Year’s gifts of the old man with the scythe. The best way is to face things, and deliberately accept the situation, stepping out briskly to climb that steep bit of hill, and enter the shadows that lie beyond the

  By PanEris using Melati.

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